new Things I Ate in Cambodia: Kimly: Crab Market Crab Shack, Awesome Fried Shrimp

Friday, December 02, 2011

Kimly: Crab Market Crab Shack, Awesome Fried Shrimp

Kimly Restaurant
Crab Market (if you're in Kep, you can't miss it)
Kep, Cambodia

Kimly is the most popular restaurant in Kep's Crab Market cluster of eateries, attracting a mixture of both Khmer and Western custom. Specializing in fresh seafood, and with a more extensive menu than other Crab Market restaurants, it attracts a cracking business during holidays, and is usually pleasingly quiet during the week. Everything is fresh, of course: you may note this place is built over the ocean.

Kimly is even so successful that they've built a guesthouse near Knai Bang Chatt: haven't been there yet, doubt they put crab-scented air fresheners in the rooms but one never knows.

I like the crab stir-fried with coconut milk the best: Kep's small, sweet, and tasty crabs pre-cracked and given a run through a thick and rather throughly spiced sauce. There's green capsicum and a little onion and green pepper involved as well. Kimly bears the virtue of never overdoing their crabs, rendering them chewy and displeasing.

We also tried the grilled squid with french fries. Simple enough - isn't everyone in the Crab Market selling squid grilled over a charcoal flame? - and pretty good with some beer. I confess that I'm not very keen on squid unless it is deep fried or stuffed with something, but my boyfriend deemed it very good. The fries were just OK, a bit limp, but there's really only so much one can expect.

I went for the stir-fried crabs with Kampot pepper on my next visit. It's a rather similar sauce to that used for the coconut milk crabs, sans coconut milk: plenty of earthy spices, green pepper, and green onion. The standout flavor is of course the fresh crispness of Kampot pepper, which is green, edible, and a nice reminder that pepper doesn't actually generate in little glass table shakers. Kimly's version of crab with Kampot pepper is not subtle - for a subtle approach, I prefer Trei, down the Crab Market row a few establishments or so. But this is good.

The real winner at Kimly may be the deep-fried shrimp with batter (make sure to specify to the waiter that you don't want shrimp fried in *butter*). If you order the medium version, you get a massive platter of fresh, delectable tail on shrimp with a crunchy but not ultra heavy crust. Delicious stuff and made me long for some Carolina-style special sauce to accompany, although the sweet chili and ketchup on offer did the job condiments-wise. People at other tables were staring at these longingly and asking what we ordered. Do it.

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